Women might comprise less than half the workforce, but not for long if current trends are anything to go by.
According to new data, NSW women are dominating employment rates, accounting for 62 percent of total employment growth, and easily exceeding their 47 percent share of the workforce. In regional areas the difference is even greater with women accounting for 70 percent of employment growth over the past 12 months.
So what are the contributing factors to this promising development?
According to NSW Minister for Women Tanya Davies, greater flexibility, inclusive workplaces and access to better paid parental leave are helping women to manage their priorities at work and home.
“We multitask not only managing our families, but future careers and studies, and also growing small businesses,” Davies said.
Some industries recorded a noticeable spike including healthcare and social assistance, education and training, and business– which has seen a huge surge.
In the last 20 years, the percentage of women-owned start-ups has grown by close to 50 percent and this number is ever-expanding with the ratio of male to female millennial start-ups currently on par.
However, where opportunities lie, challenges exist. Many women leave their employers to pursue business aspirations out of desperation rather than passion. While a number of large organisations are equipped with policies to support women juggling competing priorities, and are trying to make a conscious effort to do so, this is not always the case.
Many women report feeling judged or disparaged by their employers for taking recommended maternity leave, needing access to flexible arrangements or requiring certain assistance to help them succeed in life and work. They leave the workforce because they are left with little choice, not because they want to.
Running a business offers many notable benefits: flexibility, autonomy and purpose. But it can also include a number of shortfalls including financial uncertainty, long hours and increased pressure.
While these statistics pointing to female employment growth are encouraging, they must also be taken with a grain of salt. Governments and employers still need to do a lot more to ensure women feel supported in their place of work and afforded the opportunity to excel.